Saturday, 4 July 2020

a 20th C. Roman infantryman....

Inspired by a friend’s inventive mashup of Landsknecht armed with a MG34 WW2 machine gun (!) and images of modern soldiers with very Imperial Roman looking armour of which I have always wanted to create,  I have done my own plastics mashup of a Imperial Roman (c. 100 AD and an Imperial Japanese infantryman WW2 (c. 1940) both by Warlord Games.

Obviously the armour - the famous Lorica Segmentata must be shown - heck, not Imperial Roman without it - as would the helmet which I smoothed of details to get a slightly more modern look.  Steel colour was used but a more modern dull green could be effective for more current looking soldiers.  Two more quintessential Roman items are the ‘caligae’ [army sandals] and the ‘baltea’ [ the dangly straps in front of, well, the dangly bits ]. Both these were kept, but the main uniform is early 20th century.  The Japanese uniform has a long tunic covering the rump which was about the same length as the Roman one thus I painted in a dull red which is over the long sleeves and trousers painted a modern dull colour. As this uniform is from the 1930’s/WW2, I did not go for a baggier camouflaged version and so left the puttees which are painted in buff so giving a leather bound look instead (something picked up from the barbarians in the intervening years?).

Fun little project.

The large amount of plastic Romans I have might still be “amended”.  Looking toward making them the “Lost IX Legio”.  Lots of skeletons, mangled limbs, dead flesh and rusted armour. That could be an army.  Now to get some bits and parts.

I have cheated a bit and already created a ballista crew from the few skellie bits I had at the very bottom of a box for some reason….

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Waterloo Day!

It is June 18th and in tribute to the holiest of days for the Napoleonic fan [ ironically, as it the anniversary of the start of his final political defeat ] it is usual for the wargamer to show his Napoleon model or complete a re-game of the battle or some such.  However, I thought I would show some of the ‘unknowns” of the battle : the Dutch-Belgian Cavalry.

My Dutch-Belgian Waterloo contingent

Now any casual Napoleonic military historian knows of the heroic charges of the French horsemen led by Ney to confront the Allied infantry in square; or the charge of the Scots Greys immortalized by a dramatic painting by Lady Butler.

 But, but, but there were a whole lotta other cavalry at the battle - or at least that is what the orders of battle show us.  What about them?  Well, for starters, the winners get to write the history as the saying goes and the Duke of Wellington, being the winner - OK, then, on the winning side - made damned sure the British were the winners. Oh sure, the Prussians many have helped but calling the battle “La Belle Alliance”as suggested by Blucher? Certainly not,  when a nice English sounding town name of Waterloo was only a few miles away.  However fully a quarter of his army was German, and he did not even mentioned the numbers of Dutch and Belgian soldiers he offered to the gristmill of combat.  It is to those unsung which I offer photos of their cavalry units I made from plastic.  [ mainly 28mm Perry, but some on Fireforge medieval horses and details from various components ]

The 3rd (Dutch) Carabiniers 

The 3rd (Dutch) Carabineers were in Tripp’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade and while many illustrators have suggested they wore a rather impractical large bicorne headdress, Dutch historians suggest they might well have had the the elegant metallic helmet often shown with the more popular 2nd Regiment.

The 2nd (Belgian) Carabiniers 

Next up are the 4th (Dutch) Light Dragoons of Ghigny’s Brigade
4th (Dutch) Light Dragoons
held in reserve at the start of the battle along the Brussels road.  Now, what did they do in the battle?  The British writers do not tell us. However they do offer that the nobel Englishman Earl of Uxbridge,  the overall cavalry commander - and given that role only the day before! - ordered some Dutch-Belgian units to follow him in a charge which they did not.  Thus the label of cowards were attached to all D-Bs.  But if a man you did not recognize, speaking an incomprehensible language suddenly arrived demanding you commit your life, would you immediately agree?!
Anyway,  they are a handsome lot and pretty on the table.

Lastly we have the 5th (Belgian) Light Dragoons who are recorded in combat at Quartre-Bras earlier in the campaign against the very similarly attired French 6th Chasseurs also in green and yellow. Reforming from that combat - or retiring or retreating or routing - all depending upon the narration given, were unfortunately fired upon by friendlies due to the uniform resemblance.  But we know they fought as did probably all the other Dutch-Belgian units and they certainly will in my future Waterloo tabletop battles.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Battle of Sedgemoor refight

Monmouth's Rebellion of 1685 culminated in his defeat at Sedgemoor against James II Royal Army.  His all-civilian force had little chance against the Royal Army and so risked a night attack,  An early alarm had the Royal infantry formed up and ready.  While the determined Monmouth supporters made a good try of it, it was a fairly quick defeat historically.
Rebel's 'Red Regiment' facing the Royal Scots with plug bayonets installed.

With the alarm as the key, I had WillB as the Royal commander roll 1d6, 6 having alarm early so the Monmouth forces would have much distance to travel allowing the Royals to redeploy, move or await their cavalry and artillery support to arrive (these take much longer to form having saddles to harness and limbers to attach).  A roll of a 1 would mean very little warning was given and the rebels would be at the Bussex Rhyne (Rhine) a shallow dry irrigation ditch which was a pivotal terrain feature of the battle directly at the start.  Of course, WillB rolls his good dice and I start, as Monmouth, at a great distance to the Rhyne.
The Red regiment supported by the Blue Regiment cross the Bussex Rhine to face the Royal Army

During this refight using a mash of Lion Rampant and The Pikeman's Lament, 'Rampanty' rules, the Rebels did make a show of it, perhaps a bit too much as both the Foot Guard and Dumbarton Regiments collapsed under the pressure of the Rebel onslaught, but to compensate for the very few figures I have for Monmouth's civilian forces, I upgraded them.  Their numbers would be added to only should any early units be eliminated so offering recycling (and given a new color of flag!)

One thing about any of the Rampant rules is the activation - or lack their of - for your units can offer much fodder for the narration of the battle.  Frustrated by the lack of action by the Royal Guard of Horse, I offered the explanation that obviously their colonel was still fluffing his wig and will present himself to lead the regiment once his damnable page would find the correct uniform!  It was another three turns before the correct uniform (read: roll of the dice) was found.
In another instance, WillB ordered "a shuffle to the left" by the Coldstream Guards.  "What the hell order is that?!" must have been the response by their officers as no move was made (another failed activation)
Appears the Green Regiment of Monmouth's army is in trouble.  Once at "half-strength" - indicated by the die - it will need big dice to survival any morale test and will now roll only half dice for combat -  a grave situation indeed  and indicated by the rather dark humour of my grave marker!

The late arriving 'White Regiment' (the destroyed Red Regiment with a new flag!) is ready to face the Royal Army.  Monmouth  mounted beside them is not so sure...

Speaking of dice rolling, both WillB and I seemed to make a lot of double 6 and double 1 rolls for activation early in the game both offering good and bad things to happen.  So many that we noted each time we would roll these results - 11 times in total!  [ for the record WillB at 5 double-sixes, 1 double-ones, myself at 3 double-sixes and 2 double-ones ] At one point early in the game a fully 1/3 of our rolls were one or the other of these results!  ....'usual' rolls are not our style....

Nevertheless the Royals finally prevailed with the final rebel unit surrounded and captured so allowing James II to keep his throne for three more years
The brave but foolish White Regiment while closest to the Royal camp,  faces the Royal artillery to their front , Trewlaney's Queen's Consorts to the right and Kirke's Queen's Dowager's to the left.  They will surrender as Monmouth is no where in sight!

These figures painted back in early 1990's have been patiently waiting for this game. I finally got a go at it.  My wife might now say I can again put them back in the boxes for another decade or so....

US "Pony Wars" Cavalry

Awhile back I found a small group of Dixon US dismounted cavalry of the mid 19th century and decided to quickly do them up.  No, I don't have any opposition for them but that is a minor detail...

More recently a friend decided to open up his imaginary 1920's "East Indian" campaign i.e. that of the sub-continent of Asia, to those locals interested in playing (eventually).  As humour, I offered the following "historical" explanation to how a bunch of American c1870 horsemen became involved in a war fifty years and half a world away:

From: General Waywronge , US Army Public Relations Department 
To: Military Allocation and Transport Department, Washington DC,
Date: 3 May, 1920 

Regarding:  Transportation of United States Army Historical Reenactment Troop,  Fort Cheyenne circa 1876. 
Destination:  Northwest Frontier Settlement Theme Park
Request:  Transportation of said troop plus horses, arms and ammunition, to mentioned location with all due haste for annual ‘Red Indian Days’ in June of this year.

“Sergeant, where is North West Frontier?” asked the two week old replacement;  he was confused upon reading the request.  The First Sergeant of the Military Allocation and Transport Department, already frustrated by the constant questioning by what he considered to be a halfwit - even by Army standards - did not even bother to look up from his reading of Gunga Din.  “Well it is in India, you idiot, in the North-West part, hence the name.”
 “Got it! North West India.” 
The sergeant, to his pleasure, heard a muttered muttering from the clerk,  “Oh yeah, that makes sense, ‘Indian Days’!

After many minutes of scribbling of orders the sergeant
engrossed in his Kipling book, had to respond to yet another question.
“ Sergeant that's a pretty big area on the map. Can you narrow it down for me?”
The sergeant replied,  “Try Jhamjar.”
“ ‘Jhamjar’, Sergent?”
“Jeez a’ ”, cursed the Sargent, “J…H…A……..”

It was thus that a small troop of US Army re-enactors in bluecoats and armed with old colt revolvers found themselves not pretend-fighting Red Indians in the plains of America but actually fighting Indians with machine guns several continents away

Battle of Hampton Roads ..again....

Based on the TFL "What a Tanker' armour rules,  WillB and I had a go at my "Beast vs. Shingle" game of the Merrimac verses the Monitor naval battle of 1862.
The Merrimac (yes, not the bloody CSS Virginia thank you!)
The pencil drawn rivets shown to good effect.  The turret is a wooden liquor bottle stopper - to scale (~ 1:200 )

Designed to 'feel' like the historical battle i.e. lots of shots, not so much effect and with only a few 'critical' occurrences, the game certainly fills the bill, and can be a bit frustrating (no doubt also to the naval gunners of the battle) how our carefully aimed shot can bounce off the armour of your opponent with the frequency which is hair-pulling.  Fun stuff.  At one point Will rolled his defence dice and declared "Don't bother rolling, you can't hurt me..."  Yeah, fun stuff.  It takes patience and a slow whittling away at the enemy's strength.  The real battle lasted over four hours.
WillB adjusting the turret of the Monitor.  My rather crude and very un-mathematical template is beneath.
The two ships make another pass at each other.  The ships tend to do large lazy loops around each other --as did the original combatants.

But in all fairness, karma did go both ways and the all-important 'critical hit' had his pilot house out of action and thus the Monitor was out of control for a period of time. Now of course it was moving slowly (and slowing each turn) but, by luck, drifted just out of line with all my guns (the Merrimac did/does have several blind spots) and I could do little as I was already dead in the water!  His turret still could turn and with a final, point blank shot did enough damage to have my worn out crew surrender their ship (no more command dice).

Ramming at a snails pace does little effect and the two ships merely rubbed against each other at one point during the game

The making of the ships is described here: my previous post

Measuring Template

A group of us rather distant wargaming friends - two countries, five cities, 500kms between - and this before COVID - have been working on an all-cavalry Napoleonic rules.  Up to this point as we were still developing these rules and as among friends we 'winged it' and did not get very picky about distances and angles and such; " yeah, close enough".  Thus we have had not the need of such devices.  However should we find the odd participant who might well force the issue, I decided we need to determine charge angles and directions so a template is required.  I finally thought about this and came up with this example:

(rather fuzzy photo to start things...)

Photo 1
Photo 1:  the template is the width of a full strength French Cuirassier unit with the angles at 45 degrees
Photo 2
Photo 2:  This shows the start of the player wheeling his unit to the right at the maximum 45 degrees for further movement. Each successive horsemen will be deploy beside.
Photo 3
Photo 3: shows the unit now fully deployed.  The distance is considered to be 6 inches thus far (...close enough) should any further forward movement be required. One inch can be subtracted from the distance moved for each figure less in the unit.
Photo 4
Photo 4:  the template now deployed in the front-center of the formation providing the check of the angle of movement allowed by the Cuirassiers to attack the British Light Dragoons in the background indicated by the left side of the white strip and continuing along the template.  Obviously move it to the other side for a left hand turn!

The templates are made from thin plastic sheets and I have made extras for all the lads (when we next meet..)

You might have noted the poor dead French infantryman on the template.  He is there merely for decoration!  I had a few left over from the Perry Dragoon Box.  I used the British ones as 'rough ground' for the game, so thought to be fair about it....

Sunday, 31 May 2020

AWI in plastic

My collection of AWI is in its third incarnation. The first was old Minifig true 25s.  The next was, and still but only with my AWI French,  Front Rank.  And finally now Perry metals - for the most part.

 But I finally broke down to buy a box of Perry plastic Continentals while I await a Perry metal order  delayed due to Covid.  I thought they would be compatible.  Surprisingly for Perrys they sort of aren't; at least to my old eyes.  The plastics are much thinner and a bit taller.  Really nice, Beautiful. Would have liked shooting poses but as marching, nice.  Now of course seeing the transformation of the Perry sculpting to this much better human proportions, better proportioned weapons particularly in plastics compared to their early lines which included their AWI range, I probably should have been patient and await them*.   I nevertheless painted 6 for a small Loyalist unit 'King's Loyal Americans' which accompanied Burgoyne into the Albany Valley to Saratoga .  The remainder must stay in the box for now.  Should I later get excited about a Southern campaign I might be led to create a large unit of South Carolinian continentals - the spare hats included in the box have that distinctive cap worn by those colonialist. Or more probable, get traded or sold....the usual.

I picked up a base of the unit and took this quick pic. I hate the macro lens as it shows off all the minor issues of the painting when a more steady hand, better eye (or use of the mag lens ) and certainly more patience would be useful. They are not "El Mercenario" standard ( examples of his painting ) however for about 21 minutes per, OK for the table.... but I really need a longer arm!

edit*  Funnily enough the day after composing this post --they came in the mail!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

My new Italian WW2 Camicie Nere

Gaming buddy WillB needs constant focusing on a project lest he wander off and paint civilians or some such…LOL… see his blog at : link   for his wonderful ‘diversions’

Sooo, I said I would create a suitable opposition to his illustrious Canadians fighting in Sicily during 1943.  Interested in his campaign efforts I found a Too Fat Lardy “codex” for the Italians of that campaign.  It mentions ‘coastal’ and’Blackshirt’ units.  Hmm, as I don’t have Italian figures, what do the Blackshirts look like?  A bit of image viewing prompted me to start on these rather poorly rated soldiers.  I only had plastic American GI torsos available - a gift of bits from KevinA who had rather hacked these at the waist.  Obviously these boys need to be in trenches to hide the rather distressing fact they had no legs.  Arms literally (!) had to searched for in my bits box found from such varied sources as US, Zulu, Napoleonic and 18th century….  But the real prompt was the Blackshirt use of the black fez with tassel.  I have a box of plastic Zouaves from which I could take the fez and still leaving a turbaned version for their use.  Bonus.
Italian Blackshirt soldier

That was Sunday of last week.  So, still working full time and all the other distraction of life, I had a rushed time frame.  The scraping, manipulation, gluing and painting of the plastic was done, trenches quickly built, barbed wire areas speedily created.  I knew I could use the maximum number of the latter allowed in the rules as the poor Blackshirts had a minimum of an extra +8 support points (!) to be taken in the required entrenchments and these new barbed wire emplacements. In the Chain of Command rules, the attacker rolls for support points and the defender gets half of these with the difference in strengths added.  Between WillB and myself, poor dice rolling seems to be the norm so I got only one more point which was not enough for the sniper I had available.  Nevertheless, the barbed wire did prove very useful to funnel Will’s attack toward my ‘killing ground’ in front of my trenches.  But I get ahead of myself.

All this preparation was kept from Will as I wanted to to surprise him militarily with this unknown enemy.  The scenario had a translator provide this information taken from a villager to his colonel:

“ The shirts of black infest our (town) with sharp string and holes of ferrets.”

We gave no real concept to the terrain and simply put pieces down with only a bit of thought to position and function.  Will started with a farm house in a stone walled courtyard but ended up placing all but the largest of his buildings.  I think it was so he could place his colourful new Sicilian civilians about on the table. (grin).   That was fine as my backstory to the Blackshirts rather poor position outside the village was that they THOUGHT they were getting support from the local German garrison but these had been order away without informing the Italians!  The civilians were thus ‘in the streets’ celebrating their departure.  Nevertheless, Will’s orders are to take the crossroads at the town.  My Blackshirts’ duty was to stop them.

The patrol phase of Chain of Command is interesting and a bit tricky as, if played wrong, could limit your deployment choices and we are both rather inexperienced with the rules.  I had the added problem that, with the necessity of being in entrenchments, my forces would not desire to deploy behind walls or such. I still didn't want to give too much away to spoil the surprise for Will.
My Blackshirts would end up in a bottom of a slight depression between two ridges in farm land to await the Canadians appearing on the rise in front of them.  Will used his support points in a pre-game barrage which would have me roll of units if units would indeed arrive and me, more often that not, failing to bring in my leaders or units until turns later.
My rather ad-hoc Blackshirt contingent.

Green troops in the rules really suffer (rightfully) with less command dice, shorter jump-off ranges and can suffer greater casualties.  We started calling them "kermits" as in Kermit the Frog with his "It's not easy being green" phrase....

WillB avoided the barbed wire and a direct assault on the village and so was forced to attack frontally but helped by the hillock between my entrenchments and his line of attack - again, a result of the patrol/deployment part of the rules. The hillock also blocks line of sight for his supporting troops and his favourite tactic of laying smoke, lots of smoke, suffered from accuracy and so did not get the perfect effect he hoped to achieve.  But while only somewhat limiting the fire from my entrenched Italians, it did stay around.  Smoke only dissipates on the end of ‘a turn’ and for three successive games now, neither of us, let alone me, has rolled the required three sixes to do so, with the result that we only play “one turn” a game and the hiding smoke remains.
WillB likes his smoke rounds but without line of sight they sometime even land on his troops!
Nevertheless I could do some shooting and even going ‘tactical’ (shown by Will’s unique markers which have copious shrubbery on them — going tactical in the open effectively has the unit be like they were in light cover i.e. behind shrubbery…) my first round of fire was quite good….this would of course fall off during the game with my impotent firing dice.

Will's Canadians engage in hand-to-hand with my Italians
The rather shiny barbed wire in the background at least forced Will to go in front of my position.  The best I could hope for.  Being 'green' troops, the Blackshirts cannot be expected to give too much resistance.  However forcing the Canadians to engage in direct attacks would mean the Canadians would suffer huge casualties.
The final Canadian assault 

 However, mounting casualties from Italian fire and the dropping sun had him do risky frontal charges, which while costly, did force the Italians from their trenches and have them vanish into the countryside.  The Italian Force Morale was close to zero, all the leaders dead or wounded and only one command remained - my only recently deployed unit - I could do little to change the outcome.
The crossroads would be taken.

Don’t know how much use my new Blackshirts will be in any future games, but it was a inexpensive (read: nil cost!) and rather short timeframe foray into WW2 Sicily.
You can read Will's blog here for his version of this 'battle'.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Wading ashore

"I truly hope that puddle on the floor is from the ocean and not from your crotch, Kowalski!" intoned the tank commander to his loader.  But even he couldn't wait to get to the beach before thoughts of sinking entombed in this hunk of metal overcame him......

WillB, made his beautiful WW2 Sherman tank with a Rubicon kit which offers MANY variations. (link: Will's build )

Of course this leaves some extra bits left over.  Two of which were a hull (top only) and turret with a spare gun.  "Perhaps you might model a dug-in tank or something" he said as he offered the parts to me - he knows I enjoy the creative thought process of how to 'justify' any of it on the tabletop.   I thought about it for sometime and finally watched some video of the tanks in action and expert modellers employing some techniques to make it look convincing:  the tank in water, perhaps wading in on shore on a Pacific island beach.  Do I have a US Pacific War army? No.  Not even planning to have one which will be surprising to people who know me ....

While I did watch the various expert modellers display their talents, they make it look so easy.  All I have to say is don't stare too long or hard at MY model!

P.S.  Photographed on my new "Island" neoprene mat.  And yes, from personal experience, tropical waters can be that colour!
P.S.S  This makes two recent posts where only the top half of 'submerged' models.  Hmm. But I do stick my head in the water while I swim nevertheless.....

Sunday, 26 April 2020

The Army of Major Might

Will Bailie, a wargaming buddy of mine has his focus on the Indian/Afghan area for some time now and has created his own imagiNation world of a Indian Sub-continent land called Jhamjar (yes, like jam jar... so lots of "food you put on toast" puns possible among others).  He put out a call for local fellow gamers to add a contingent should they wish within the confines of era and geography.  (Link: Jhamjar explained )

 As I had some Boers laying about "without a home" , I decided to quickly base them for the task.
The following is my contingent's tongue-in-cheek backstory:

Major(recently retired)V.G.Might, late of the South African forces stationed in the Sinai at the end of the First World War, did not want to go back to Pretoria.  He felt many of his (former) command felt likewise.  Victor Might was dissolutioned fighting an ‘Imperial War”.  A dreamer and reader of grand adventures in the back and beyond of Asia and one morning, after a much gin-fuelled read of “The Chalice of Hunn-Nee”,  began his recruiting drive.  He found a large body of men armed and looking for adventure and offered them images of riches and exotic lands.

Courtesy of his ‘procurement officer’, a rather daring individual who boarded commercial ships as they transversed the Suez Canal, asked for their shipping manifests (often at gunpoint) and removed whatever would be useful.  One such vessel was transporting suits of men’s civilian clothing. “Can’t be wearing our old khakis can we?”  To the Major’s liking, as they were of somber tones; to these were added bandoliers and, of course rifles, by far the easiest to obtain. Razors were rare however, much to some of the men’s delight.

The army was given its employment the day when the Major’s second, Piet Rasponse “Rasp” Berry asked scratching at his growing beard, “So where do we find this chalice?”
   Might did not look up from his worn atlas of Asia, “Well, Rasp, the Huun Nee is thought to reside in the Bai Lie Temple somewhere in the Imagitush Mountains.”
   “And how, pray tell, do we get to this ‘Bai Lie’ place?” asked Rasp.
    Pointing a finger somewhere on the old page, Might responded, “Through this Jhamjar region it appears.”

…So there is my backstory to why a bunch of Second Boer War figures would be in a remote section of Asia. But how they are to be deployed, whose side are they on, and their quality is yet to be determined.

Photos of Might's 'Army' on the trail to Jhamjar